Date Released: 29 May 2013
An important victory for workers’ rights was secured following a two-day protest outside Crumlin Shopping Centre in early May.
Following an attempt by the contract company, At Risk Security, to unilaterally change workers’ pay and conditions of employment, four SIPTU members mounted a protest outside the shopping mall on Dublin’s southside.
Cleaner Tina Geraghty, who has worked at the centre since 1996, said: “I was not going to let this contractor effectively make me redundant after 17 years of dedicated, loyal service.
“During the protest, the people of Crumlin were very supportive of me and my colleagues. They made their views known on how we were being treated to the contractor and client. This played a huge part in us getting justice. It demonstrates what workers can do when they are organised.”
At Risk Security had recently won the contract to provide security and cleaning services in the Crumlin Shopping Centre from the previous providers, Direct Cleaning and Brinks Security.
At Risk failed to respect its obligations to the existing workforce under Transfer of Undertakings legislation.
This legally protects workers’ existing pay and conditions of employment when a new employer takes over a contract.
The management of At Risk Security told the four workers they must accept reductions in pay and major changes to their terms and conditions. These included an expectation that cleaning staff carry out security duties and security workers perform cleaning tasks.
SIPTU Contract Cleaning and Security Sector Organisers, Ed Kenny and Peadar Nolan, assisted the workers in organising the protests outside the shopping centre on 13th and 14th May. After the second day of protest it was announced that At Risk had lost the contract. Direct Cleaning and Brinks Security were reinstated.
Crumlin Shopping Centre security officer and SIPTU shop steward, John Drumm, said: “The protest demonstrates what we workers can do when we show solidarity and resolve when we are being treated in a unacceptable fashion. Contractors have to realise that workers cannot and will not be collateral damage when contracts are won and lost. There was no way that we as security officers were going to carry out cleaning functions and displace colleagues like Tina. It just won’t happen.”
Ed Kenny said: “In the absence of Registered Employment Agreements for the cleaning and security industry, some unscrupulous contractors have attempted to gain market share at the expense of workers and more reputable contractors.
“This is unacceptable behaviour and we will support all workers in fighting this.”